Population Pressures and Resource Depletion

PROPOSAL: Population Plank

SPONSOR: GPUS Platform Committee

CHAIRS:  
Bruce Hinkforth, bhinkforth@milwpc.com
Linda Cree, creelinda@hotmail.com

CONTACTS:
Tim Willard, Dravidic@hotmail.com
Linda Cree, creelinda@hotmail.com

BACKGROUND:
There are good planks on contraception, women’s health, and family planning under the Social Justice Section of the GPUS Platform.  There is, however, a glaring lack on the issue of population under the Ecological Sustainability Section.  As Greens, our Key Value of Ecological Wisdom compels us to address this issue in a more comprehensive manner.  This proposal attempts to bring the ecological aspects of this extremely important issue into some prominence in our platform. Therefore, we propose adding the following subsection as indicated below:

III ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY
N. Population Pressures and Resource Depletion

Human overpopulation aggravates the problems of global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, intensive farming practices and the consumption of finite natural resources, such as fresh water and arable land. Human overpopulation is a major driving force behind the loss of ecosystems, such as rainforests, temperate woodlands, coral reefs, wetlands and Arctic ice.

The Green Party advocates a comprehensive program to address the problem of overpopulation. In addition to the planks listed in Chapter II: Social Justice I Population, we commit to the following:

  1. Integrate lessons on population, environment, and development into school curricula at multiple levels, including such important population concepts as “carrying capacity,” “the Netherlands Fallacy,” and “the I=PAT Equation.”
  2. Convince leaders to commit to stabilizing population growth through the exercise of human rights in accordance with the Iroquois Confederacy’s Seventh Generation principle which considers how decisions will impact people seven generations into the future.
  3. Promote more respect for each individual human life and reject as inhumane and counter-productive ideas such as “lifeboat ethics” and “eugenics” and criminal practices such as involuntary sterilization.
  4. Oppose development programs that push people off the land and destroy the equilibrium of self-sufficient subsistence cultures in order to force them into a cash economy.
  5. Create bio-regional maps that develop a “sense of place” and reconnect people to their land.
  6. Support efforts at “rewilding,” habitat restoration, and protecting biodiversity from the impacts of our unprecedented numbers.

42 thoughts on “Population Pressures and Resource Depletion”

  1. Yes. After much controversy, the Platform Committee seems to have arrived at a statement recognizing the dangers of human overpopulation, the possibility, and the difficulty and necessity of addressing the matter. The language is clear and sufficiently general in its recommendations to offend the personal values of anyone other than capitalist futurists and technocrats.

  2. This needs language on the realities of resource consumption: that the wealthiest quintile of the world population consume over 80% of overall resources.

    As soon as anyone starts talking about “overpopulation” without starting at the top of the income scale, I know they’re about to push a bunch of “lifestyle choices,” blame-the-poor-for-being-poor, neoliberal garbage.

    (Speaking of which, I=PAT is a slogan, not an actual equation. We should not be holding it up as an “important population concept.”)

    I’d prefer not to see the platform talking about overpopulation at all, given how loaded with racist, colonialist history the concept is, but if we’re going to have a section on it, that section needs to correctly identify the major cause of resource consumption, which is wealth, not total population.

    1. Yes, I agree over-consumption is a huge factor, Geoffrey. The last attempt at getting a population proposal through did contain language about over-consumption – (and so does this one indirectly with references to I=PAT and the Netherlands Fallacy) – but one of the reasons we couldn’t get it passed was that it was considered too long and unwieldy. Since we do address over-consumption in the plank on population under Social Justice, it was omitted here. I, for one, would be glad to have it put back in here more specifically. Do you have any specific language as a friendly amendment?

      I=PAT is usually referred to as an equation, and it IS an important population concept. You contradict yourself if you don’t want it used, as this is one of the ways “consumption” and “affluence” becomes factors to be taken seriously. (According to the I-PAT equation, those areas of the globe most lit up by the electric grid night pix would be the over-populated areas, not the African nations so many people immediately think of.)

      And yes, the issue is extremely hard to address. So many “liberals” think immediately and erroneously of Third World or minority populations as the problem. So many less privileged people immediately feel threatened given history’s lessons of genocide and eugenics! It’s the elephant in the room we have to try to raise awareness of, however. Almost every ecological and social issue we deal with is severely impacted by the sheer scale at which we’re operating today. How to do it in a way that enhances the value of every human life is the challenge.

    2. Agree! and in an assessment of IPAT – the IPAT Equation (emphasis mine): “The IPAT equation made a contribution to understanding the multiple causes of environmental impact, and it continues to be developed as a method for improving our understanding of these issues. IT HAS NOT HELPED IN IDENTIFYING SUSTAINABLE SCALE, but it is a useful framework to assist in thinking about ways of reducing environmental impacts by reducing various types of throughput.”

  3. Prominent mention should be made of the adverse consequences of overpopulation for human beings. Many social problems become intractable, and the stage is set for war, hunger, and economic injustice. Overpopulation is incompatible with a society in which economic justice prevails and every human being leads a fulfilling life.

    1. Yes, I think the plank would be strengthened by beginning with what you’ve said, John. We did try for that last time, but since it was covered in the population plank under Social Justice, tried to keep this one shorter by focusing on the environmental aspects.

      If you’d like to make adding your sentences at the start of the section (see below) a friendly amendment, I’d be happy to accept them. I request that PlatCom agree to add them as a new beginning paragraph.

      NEW BEGINNING PARAGRAPH: Greens know overpopulation has myriad adverse consequences for human beings. Many social problems become intractable, and the stage is set for war, hunger, and economic injustice. Overpopulation is incompatible with a society in which economic justice prevails and every human being leads a fulfilling life.

      CONTINUE WITH CURRENT OPENING PARAGRAPH AS SECOND PARAGRAPH: Human overpopulation aggravates the problems of global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss . . . . etc.

    2. This is just wrong. There is no research outside of zpg that states this.

      N. Population Pressures and Resource Depletion from the original proposal
      Human overpopulation aggravates the problems of global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, intensive farming practices and the consumption of finite natural resources, such as fresh water and arable land. Human overpopulation is a major driving force behind the loss of ecosystems, such as rainforests, temperate woodlands, coral reefs, wetlands and Arctic ice.

      ADDITIONAL PERSPECTIVE NEEDED for the above passage:
      The above paragraph places the entire ecological burden on human overpopulation when the data is not clear. What is clear is that richer countries like the US are contributing to environmental degradation to a much greater degree than other countries mainly through consumption rates. Even the alarming practice where mothers in countries such as India are giving birth to children in order to provide for the consumption of parents from richer countries with ‘wanted babies’. What is clear is that economic practices of developed nations is impacting environmental degradation to a greater degree than undeveloped nations. Finite resources are not being managed on a local, state, national, or global level to meet the needs of human beings. What climate scientists have stated repeatedly is that our carbon footprint needs to be brought to zero levels in order to offset the damage that is already in effect now. They have outlined specific steps that can be taken to achieve that goal.

  4. The third bullet point makes better sense as a social justice issue rather than an environmental issue. Might it better fit into a family planning section?

  5. Some greens perennially try to insert “overpopulation” planks like this one into our platform. The idea that the world is overpopulated and that overpopulation is creating resource scarcity is a myth. Many Greens do not realize this because many are coming from a liberal mindset. Rather, resource scarcity is *manufactured* by capitalism. It is a condition created by capitalism. We have enough resources to feed and shelter and otherwise provide for the human population, but we aren’t doing so because capitalism wants scarcity. So Greens should be tackling the problem of capitalism and manufactured scarcity and its effect on the world population. Redirecting the problem onto the backs of working people (and specifically, poor people of color), is misguided, dishonest, and dangerous.

  6. Every human being except prostituted women, children, and others who are relegated to a special class for the profitable and violent sex trade spurred by decriminalization of the perpetrators of these human rights abuses.

  7. The proposal BACKGROUND states: ‘There are good planks on contraception, women’s health, and family planning under the Social Justice Section of the GPUS Platform. ‘ Thank you for that acknowledgement, I strongly believe that these planks are the appropriate way to address human population. I agree with Geoffrey that our platform should not talk about overpopulation at all. The problem is imperialist capitalism and its unsustainable exploitation of resources. I would consider statements 4, 5 and 6 under ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABLITY.

    I will not vote in favor of this proposal.

    Tommie James
    North Carolina Delegate

  8. It is concerning to hear Greens approach the ills of capitalism as an overpopulation issue.

    Our platform needs to debunk this thinking that is used by neoliberals and conservatives as an excuse so they can feel justified in doing nothing. Far too often on social media I hear: “What will it matter? Overpopulation.”

    If implemented, our Platform itself would provide multi-level solutions that would address population issues and sustainability.

    From the linked article below:

    “Overpopulation describes a situation where the number of people exhausts the resources in a closed environment such that it can no longer support that population.”

    “Instances of phony overpopulation occur when humans create artificially closed environments. If government policies prevent food from being transported to where it is needed, or distributed to those who are hungry, “overpopulation” is not to blame. It’s the policy, stupid.”

    “In addition, overpopulation is defined as a problem created by the numbers of people, not their behaviors.”

    “Overcrowding =/= Overpopulation: Overcrowding is a problem that should be solved by city planners, not by population controllers.”

    “Let’s keep these things in mind as we consider the argument that the earth, as a closed environment, is overpopulated.”

    Debunking the Myth of Overpopulation: https://www.pop.org/debunking-the-myth-of-overpopulation/

    Best,
    Tina
    GPVA Delegate

  9. It’s mind-boggling to me that our Green Party platform would not address the issue of human population as a critical issue regarding the long-term viability of our species. We’re the only party with Ecological Wisdom as a core value – but we can’t claim any adherence to that value if we ignore this elephant in the room.

    The comments about eugenics make good sense. We’ve tried to address that real threat in the plank – see #3 – but are certainly open to friendly amendments if someone has more specific language on this.

    The comments on our over-consumptive lifestyles are sensible – and, tho’ already addressed in the population plank under Social Justice – will gladly be added as a friendly amendment (since they were once there but taken out because of complaints about length.)

    The lack of awareness of our growing population’s ecological impact by some is stunning, however, and I’ve no words to address what must be either total disconnect from natural realities, or determined denial.

  10. It’s true that some issues of resource depletion and pollution are driven by the consumption patterns of the wealthy nations, but others are primarily driven by population growth and aggravated by climate change. The depletion of fresh water supplies is probably the most important of these.

    Depletion of fresh water supplies is happening around the world, in wealthy countries and in poor ones. Some towns in the U.S. Midwest have run out of local water supplies because the Ogallala aquifer has been pumped dry. The Colorado River doesn’t reach the sea anymore because all the water is all used before it gets there. The Aral Sea, once the fourth largest fresh water body on the planet, has almost completely disappeared. Cape Town, South Africa, is on the verge of running out of ground water supplies. Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, Lima and Sana’a, Yemen are major cities that face severe water shortages. It’s estimated that by 2030, half the world’s population will suffer water stress.

    Similar population stresses are affecting arable land, forests, and wildlife extinction. We simply cannot ignore the problems that population growth has caused and will cause. As always it will be poorer populations that suffer the most.

    We have a half century of data that shows that empowering and educating women results in birth rates declining to replacement levels or lower. This is not only a social justice issue, it is an issue of sustainability and indeed survival. I think it is important that we reiterate it here.

    1. Right, “Depletion of fresh water supplies…” partly because we defecate in the water and use the rivers and streams as an industrial sewer.

  11. This proposal would benefit from relating the population issue to the ecological principal of “carrying capacity.”

    From Wikipedia:

    The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available in the environment.

    The carrying capacity for any species, plant, animal, or bacterial can be determined with sufficient research. The human population’s carrying capacity can be determined as well. Without the exploitation of the billions of years of solar energy stored in fossil fuels over the last 300 years we would not be looking at a possible world population of 9 billion in 2050. Without fossil fuels there probably would not be more than 1 or 2 billion people on this planet.

    Fossil fuels will never run out but they will become too costly to find and extract to depend on in the near future along with other strategic mineral resources. Solar and wind power will not take up the slack because the production and installation of these alternative energy resources are still totally dependent on fossil fuel production.

    Denying that humans have a carrying capacity is the same as denying climate change. Indeed they are closely related. Just as we can predict the impact of climate change, we can predict the impact of exceeding the carrying capacity of our species. And it will not be pretty.

    This is not an issue of race or wealth any more than climate change really is. It’s about the situation we have created by building societies that are so totally dependent on one resource, fossil fuels. Unfortunately, just as with climate change, those who are and will be most effected will be the poor and people of color worldwide.

    We can stick our heads in the sand but all that does is leave our collective asses in the air. If the Green Party really values Ecological Wisdom and Future Focus, we need to begin to raise this issue of carrying capacity in our platform.

  12. Yes, I agree, Bruce. We do mention “carrying capacity,” but I think a separate plank taking some of what you specified would make it much clearer. I would gladly accept this as a friendly amendment.

  13. I agree with Bruce Hinkforth.
    Although I am not familiar with the concept of carrying capacity, it indeed seems like a very common sense approach to problems having to do with population.

  14. — Colonialism is not only about the emigration of colonists into another’s homeland. Colonialism is also about taking over another’s homeland in order to extract the resources. The bigger the population, the more resources needed. This is true for both capitalist and socialist systems…as well as any other economic system. Overpopulation leads to living beyond a land’s carrying capacity which leads to the colonization of other people’s homelands.

    — In fact, this overpopulation and the predatory expansion against neighbors is a defining feature of what anthropologists call large-scale societies (i.e. civilizations or city-based societies), making not capitalism nor socialism but overpopulation and its subsequent civilizations the root causes of colonization and environmental destruction.

    — Dr. John Bodley, Professor Emeritus from Washington State University, has written for decades on how the over-populated large-scale societies (civilizations) prey on other people’s homelands for resources. He has specifically looked at how the overpopulation of Europe and the United States has devastated Indigenous peoples and their homelands. From what I am reading here, many people need to take the time to read his book (now in its 6th edition), “Victims of Progress.”

    — “In the mid-eighteenth century…the Industrial Revolution launched the developing Western nations on an explosive growth in population and consumption…which led to an unprecedented assault on the world’s indigenous peoples and their resources.” (John Bodley, “Victims of Progress” 6th edition, p13)

    — Europe’s colonialism was powered in large part by its overpopulation. Remember, Columbus came in 1492, more than a century before Adam Smith and his capitalist manifesto came into being. Europe at that time was suffering from war, famine, plagues, extreme poverty, feudalism…all of which were either largely caused by or exacerbated by overpopulation. Not only explorers but families decided it was preferable to face the extreme dangers of migrating across a vast ocean to an unknown land for the faint possibility of surviving to find a land where they could be free, where they had the space to escape tyranny.

    — Why do you think the Puritans came to American seeking religious freedom? Europe was so overpopulated there was literally no place to find refuge from tyranny. North America, however, was perceived as a “wilderness” due to its much lower population (estimated between 6 million and 12 million in 1492). This abundance of land that was not strangling under pressures of human overpopulation offered the Puritans the space to find refuge from religious tyranny.

    — A citizen base that is overpopulated serves the capitalist system well as it makes for a mass of people competing for the same jobs – this allows the capitalist to pay rock-bottom wages.

    — A citizen base that is overpopulated serves the capitalist and the socialist system well for it provides “excess population” (in economic terms) to be used as fodder in the state’s standing military.

    — Making the overpopulation issue solely a women’s issue requiring the education of “Third World” women is both racist and colonist in the extreme. First, it assumes the overpopulation issue is found only in the so-called Third World countries and ignores the way the U.S. and other rich, industrial nations have already grossly overpopulated their lands. Second, the education called for is part of the West’s cultural assimilation programs intended to eradicate Indigenous cultures (and their “relative stability” of population numbers which is partly “attributed to social, economic, and religious controls on fertility” – Bodley p13)

    — Today, “few, if any commercial nations can now supply from within their own boundaries the resources needed to support further growth or even to maintain current consumption levels.” This is due the “acceleration in world population growth rates” that are directly related to “industrial progress,” a relationship that is “well documented.” Europe and the United States went through their population explosion and are now greatly overpopulated, greatly consumeristic – the combination of these two factors, overpopulation and overconsumption, have led to Europe and the US becoming parasites on much of the rest of the world. And yet there are still people *in the GREENS!* that do not think we should address the overpopulation issue?????!!!!!

    — As someone is calling for personal background from those discussing this issue, I am a mixed-blood woman from a rural family of poverty who has had significant experience with the social welfare system to know how classist and racist it is on not only an intellectual but also a personal basis. I also am a Native American Studies instructor at Northern Michigan University where I have taught for nearly 15 years and developed the line of Indigenous environmental studies for our department.

  15. While it may seem logical on the surface human overpopulation is not the major driving force behind the loss of ecosystems. In regions where locals are in control of their local ecology, without the pressures of corporate extraction, they take care of their ecosystem. Ecosystems are under assault by the profiteering financial system using its wealth extracting corporations to turn it all into their personal wealth. Population pressures will turn once the people experience a better standard of living which can be achieved with robust public investment in local economies.

  16. I believe the overpopulation issue is human created overpopulation of cows, chickens and hogs. Belgium kills as many pigs per year as it has people. There are more than 1 billion cows, more than 19 billion chickens and 3/4 billion pigs on the planet. The impact on Greenhouse gases, fresh water use, and inefficiency of food calorie use are all problems with diets based on animal products. As it happens, these diets also make humans overweight and sick[1], reducing quality of life and increasing the inefficiency of healthcare.

    Asking people to change their diet, or greatly reduce the contribution of animal products to their diet, is a lot to ask – it rubs up against traditional food practices, sometimes even religious beliefs – but it is asking a lot less than asking them to have fewer children.

    I gave up eating meat almost thirty years ago when I found out that a lot more people could eat if we all gave up meat. (Not virtue signalling here – I have had more than my fair share of plane trips in my life – but I *am* saying that this is completely doable.)

    I am a “white” American descendant of Europeans, including from victims of a manufactured famine. I shared the dominant left cultural paradigm of “white” = “settler” = ecocidal/genocidal mentality. While that is in part true, it also ignores many important positive value traditions of “Western” society. Some of these come from the Catholic tradition. Before socialism, Catholicism in many ways stood as a restraint against rapacious capitalism. An important value underpinning this restraint is the concept of the sacredness of human life. Does asking the world to reduce its numbers before asking it to reduce its environmental footprint promote the value of the sacredness of all human beings or does it undermine it? And while socialism has stood against the excesses of capitalism, it has a baggage of technology worship and hubris that can just as easily lead to unrestrained growth. Greens who come from the left need to explore this baggage to consider whether the polices they promote are not in some way degrading to our sense of humanity and thereby counter to social justice.

    The eugenics movement was promoted by John D Rockefeller in ways that may shock you – including by buying off members of the Catholic Church with grant money. It turns out that the population time bomb was promoted, according to declassified documents, as a way to prevent the military advantage that a growing population would have (India, China, Egypt, Philippines, Iran) over a superpower with a declining one. International and other NGO’s (World Bank, AID) were instrumentalized for this military agenda. We want to avoid being tools of that agenda – or at the very least step into this issue with a lot of caution.

    I think this is a huge topic that requires a lot of historical knowledge of which I have only scratched the surface – but it may well be that rather than focusing on reducing the world human population – a safer and Greener position might be to work on reducing the footprint in a life affirming way of each human on the planet by promoting a primarily plant based diet instead. (Not bad for improving the treatment of animals either – both those that are raised and those who lose their habitat to livestock production…)

    Aimee Smith
    CA Green Party

    [1] Please see the publications of Prof. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Doug Lisle, Dr. Alan Goldhammer, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and Dr. Michael Gregger for extensive support of this claim.

  17. I agree with Aimee Cree Dunn and disagree with Aimee Smith. Aimee Smith says it would be “safer” to promote a primarily plant-based diet (which we already do encourage) – but wants to ignore over-popualtion’s ecological impacts. To do so, IMO, violates our values of Ecological Wisdom and Future Focus – as well as our value of Social Justice since we know the hardships caused by over-population fall on the most vulnerable people, and on future generations.

    Pope Francis would be the best person in the world to take on this issue by challenging Catholic traditional teachings on birth control and the desirability of large families and using his considerable clout to raise awareness of the need to move gently toward negative population growth globally. I say this because his concern and love for the most vulnerable people is well known, as is his concern and love for other creatures and the Earth we all share.

    Since I doubt this will happen, however, it’s up to Greens – with our values of Social Justice, Ecological Wisdom, and Future Focus – to take leadership on this critical issue. We can’t ignore it, Aimee Smith, or think eating less meat is all we have to do. The issue of population is interconnected with growing ignorance of ecological realities we’ve dismissed for far too long in our headlong rush to “progress” and “grow.” We really do still have a choice to move away from ecological overshoot (gradually over a couple of generations) by simply incentivizing one-or-two-child families. But we’ll never move in that direction if we continue to stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best rather than dealing with the issue honestly and raising awareness of a better direction.

    1. For the Pope to lead the way on promoting birth control would be a betrayal of the view that human sexuality is connected to the sacred act of procreation. Our modern culture has taken the path of separating sexuality from procreation to the point that we even expect people to recognize marriage of same sex couples and has led to the proliferation of pornography and the sexualization of media in ways that have been quite destructive to women and children. Some would suggest these are unintended consequences that come with “freedom”, but others fear this was part of an agenda to degrade Western culture and make us easier to enslave by weakening the family. Either way, this is not a course the Pope is about to jump on to if he hopes to have any credibility within the Church.

      Greens absolutely must encourage people, particularly in “the West”, to recognize that the earth is finite and that we have hard limits that we would do well to take into account as we move forward into the future. This is one of the most important things that Greens have to raise awareness on – the other is that technology is not the God we have been taught to believe it is and thus technology will not be able to get us out of any scrape we might get ourselves into. (Take Fukishima as exibit A of this reality. Wee no longer hear about the polution coming from this disaster because Japan changed the laws about information, not because our geniuses in the fields of technology have solved this problem.)

      In many ways, birth control is tied up with technology worship – a technological fix to separate us from the consequences of sexuality that is not in the context of a loving, committed relationship – the immediate potential side effects are rape, emotional betrayal, disease, and more. But part of the spiritual side effects include potentially degrading our own humanity by trivializing sexuality and viewing children as an unwanted side-effect to pleasure seeking rather than the point.

      I don’t expect to convince you, Linda Cree, to this other value system any more than I expect you to win the Pope over to yours. But I do think it is important to see that there are two different values systems at play here and if we truly hope to be a diverse party that actually includes Christians with Christian values, then some thought should be given to which positions might need to be put to the side in order to be inclusive. Population control, in my view, is one such issue. And fortunately, since it is not population, but rapacious greed which is overtaking the limits of our environment, we need not feel we are being irresponsible in doing so.

      1. Well, Aimee Smith, you’d be surprised at how much of the value system you don’t expect me to have is already my own. (I was raised a devout Catholic, no longer believe the dogmas describing exactly who God is or “original sin” or Jesus’ role in salvation, but do still hold most of the values.) That includes my skepticism about the worship of “Progress” and technological fixes.

        I understand why, in the conventional view, Pope Francis can’t be expected to take the lead on the population issue, but was simply saying he’s a person the vulnerable of the world would trust. And it does seem any good Catholic (so, of course, Pope Francis) could take leadership on population using the very issues you raise in your second paragraph!

        Add to the need to slow our explosive growth on a finite planet the fact that even a moment’s reflection tells us that if we care at all for the wild creatures of the Earth we share this planet with, we should care enough to limit our family sizes! St. Francis cared, and cared deeply, and Pope Francis took him as namesake. Since saints famed for caring about the poor are legion, it may not be too unrealistic to think this pope also cares for the wild, voiceless ones St. Francis championed.

        Also, it’s rather heartless to equate caring about gradually reducing human numbers to not caring for children, or to a desire for irresponsible sexual license. Nothing I’ve said indicates either, so it seems these are deflections, or, as some would put it, “dirty pool.” Not offended or angry tho’ as I’ve been in arguments with you before (usually on the same side) and know you throw everything into it and take as good as you give.

  18. I wholeheartedly agree with Aimee Cree Dunn and have to disagree with Aimee Smith.

    Aimee Smith says it would be “safer” to promote a primarily plant-based diet (which we already do encourage) than try to address population’s ecological impacts. This may be “safer” but is not a “Greener” approach and, IMO, violates our values of Ecological Wisdom and Future Focus. It also violates our commitment to Social Justice since we know the hardships caused by over-population fall on the most vulnerable people, and on future generations.

    Pope Francis would be the best person in the world to take on this issue by challenging Catholic traditional teachings on birth control and the desirability of large families and using his considerable clout to raise awareness of the need to move gently toward negative population growth globally. I say this because his concern and love for the most vulnerable people is well known, as is his concern and love for other creatures and the Earth we all share.

    Since I doubt this will happen, however, it’s up to Greens – with our values of Social Justice, Ecological Wisdom, and Future Focus – to take leadership on this critical issue. We can’t ignore it, or think eating less meat is all we have to do – as laudable as that is.

    We’ve ignored ecological realities far too long in our headlong rush to “progress” and “grow.” We really do still have a choice to move away from ecological overshoot (gradually over a couple of generations) by simply incentivizing one-or-two-child families. But we’ll never move in that direction if we continue to stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best rather than dealing with the issue honestly and raising awareness of a better direction.

  19. Since the adverse affects of overpopulation and resource depletion are being felt first and hardest by poorer populations perhaps we should include a provision that the developed nations have an obligation to help less developed nations mitigate the problem.

  20. Unless we start at home by recognizing what our own numbers and high-consumption lifestyles are doing to the web of life, we don’t have any credibility in approaching other nations on this issue. “Less-developed” nations have every reason to be suspicious of such efforts to help them “mitigate the problem,” Tim.

    Other than setting a good example of ecological wisdom here at home, reining in our corporations would be the most helpful thing we can do for vulnerable nations. This is partially addressed in #4.

    4. Oppose development programs that push people off the land and destroy the equilibrium of self-sufficient subsistence cultures in order to force them into a cash economy.

    The World Bank and IMF have been big players in such destructive development. Another problem today is pushing people off their lands for bio-fuel crops, but it’s only a new twist on an old, oft-repeated story.

  21. The observation that increasing the population of the planet by humans puts a stress on the environments available for that increase is clear. In some cases the mere addition of a species alien to a delicately balanced ecology is enough to destroy it. But any proposal to reduce the human footprint must address poverty. The reduction of poverty reduces much of the human species’ impulse to increase. Eradication of poverty, education, individual pleasure, and hope reduce the irrational pressure to procreate.

  22. I think there is merit in all the contrasting perspectives that are being shared here. The extent of our overpopulation is dramatized by humans and our domestic animals (livestock and pets) being calculated to constitute 97% of the Earth’s land mammal biomass. That leaves 3% for all species of wild land mammals, and clearly if there is to be a functioning ecosystem anywhere, we can not continue to indefinitely expand our numbers, even if resources are more equitably distributed among us humans.

    I do agree with those who place the onus on those who consume the most; wildlife tends to fare better in more frugal countries (in Botswana, for example, wild mammals make up about 25% of the biomass), and the appetites of the apex human consumers cast a wide net of destruction in and beyond the nations in which they live.

    I also recognize diet as an important factor; livestock intended for human consumption collectively outweighs humans and directly displaces wild creatures in their habitats, when not unhealthily congregated into miserable and polluting confinement. Never before has the Earth been asked to support billions of top terrestrial predators our size, and if we are to continue to number in the billions, our diet will have to shift away from the predator model.

    Nonetheless, high population growth rates are unsustainable in all countries, partly because of the economic and social cost of a relatively small number of working age adults needing to support a large contingent of children, and partly because even in countries where lifestyles are very frugal or struggling, many aspire to higher consumption lives, and in the just world we seek to create, should face no barriers to attaining them.

    I think the proposed language respects this complex interplay of issues, and support its inclusion in our platform.

  23. I think the population plank we have in Section II is quite good and says all we need to say about it. If you feel that there should be something in Section III because yes, population is an ecological sustainability issue, I might be in favor of moving the current plank to this section, say just before Ethical Treatment of Animals.

  24. What is the GPUS platform for?

    If it is about policies we want the US government to adopt within the next few years, population control should not be part of it.

    The US population would be dropping pretty fast over the next few decades (unless the birth rate goes up for unknown reasons) because people born in the USA are not replacing ourselves. What keeps the population from decreasing is immigrants, immigrants who have children, and to some extent children of immigrants who have children. Grandchildren of immigrants have children at pretty much the same low rate as the rest of us.

    So the obvious way for the USA to keep the US population from growing is to forbid immigration and expel immigrants. This is all that would be required, we’re doing fine otherwise. This is probably not a policy the Green Party should have.

    The US government could do things to reduce the population of the rest of the world. We probably don’t want that in our platform either.

    Traditionally local populations lived near carrying capacity. In good years the population expanded. In bad years it contracted. Bad winters. Occasional famines or epidemics. Etc. As the people in each area learned more effective ways to exploit their environment, the local population went up. As they degraded the local environment, the population went down. On average, the human population slowly increased.

    We have created a world economy that extracts resources from everywhere and feeds people everywhere, while inhibiting epidemics. When it fails we can expect a population crash unless we have created a sustainable economy by then. The hypothetical sustainable economy will sustain a human population of some unknown size. If that size turns out to be 8 billion or 9 billion people, then great! If it turns out to be 2 billion people then 6 billion plus will have to die younger than otherwise. If it turns out to be 300 million people then that’s pretty bad.

    How long will the global economy last? 50 years? Maybe. 30 years? Likely. When I’m feeling pessimistic I figure maybe less than 3 years. When it ends we probably have a world population crash.

    If we make policies about overpopulation, what timescale are we looking at? Are we thinking about making people in other countries reduce their birthrate within the next few years? Are we going to make immigrants to the USA reduce their birthrate? Are we interested in killing off some of the surplus population? Whatever we do will be overtaken by events. I don’t know when the crash is coming or how big it will be, but whatever we do to reduce world birthrate ahead of time will probably not last after the crash. (Except for reducing the USA immigrant birthrate, that might last.) Things will get disorganized across the world.

    Overpopulation is a problem on an inhuman scale. We don’t know how big the problem will be, and we don’t know what to do about it. We don’t know how much to do about it. We have short-term problems which loom over it because the human population size is not predictable 50 years in advance, given that the world economy is unsustainable.

    If we can create a variety of sustainable technologies, that work across a variety of biomes, that helps. Renewable energy is likely to help a lot. I am not clear that direct solutions for overpopulation belong in the US national platform.

    1. “What is the GP-US Platform for?” you ask, Jonah, and then answer it by saying it’s for policies we want our gov’t to institute in the next few years.

      Yes – but there’s more. It’s also where we educate and raise awareness about critical issues, present alternative Green policies, and create our vision of what a Green culture would look like. Taken as a whole, it’s calling for nothing less than a radical transformation of our society to a much more caring, just, and sustainable one.

      The sheer scale and speed at which human activities are operating today is a big part of the problem. And much of that has to do with the fact that we’re living in an unprecedented time of what demographers call “the population J-curve.” Human populations have skyrocketed in the last few hundred years as a result of exponential growth which has been supported by rapacious industrialism. For our Platform not to address the ecological aspects of this makes us appear as ostrich-like as the other political parties, despite all of our talk of “sustainability” and “ecological wisdom.”

      Immigration is NOT the main reason we’ve grown from 100 million people when my Mom was born to over 300 million by the time of her death. Exponential natural growth is the reason. That means that, even tho’ birth rates have declined, there are more couples having children. (Simplified Ex: 100 couples having 5 kids each in 1900 = 500 kids, but 300 couples having 2.1 kids each in 2018 = 630 kids.) And so it goes.

      Your question on timescale is right on. This will take generations to do gently and right. But the rest of your questions in that paragraph indicate you haven’t read the proposal itself. The main gist of the proposal is to support educational efforts to raise awareness about the issue in an ecological context. Please don’t join those who start talking about “killing” as soon as anyone mentions over-population.

      1. As I see it, your approach is:

        1. There are too many people in the world.
        2. We should arrange that there be fewer people in the world.
        3. It would be wrong to use any kind of force to reduce the number of people, for example to make it harder for poor people to raise children.
        4. Our approach to reducing the population is to first, teach contraception so that everyone can have sex without resulting in children, and second, teach that there are too many people in the world so that more people will choose not to have children.

  25. I disagree with using “overpopulation”. There is plenty of land to live on, the problem is allocation of people. If we want to address a lack of space for living, or recreation, that discussion should center around city planning, and urban over-crowding.

    China’s largest cities are a great example when this can be destructive.

    But that doesn’t mean we should be discouraging population growth in schools to help the environment. Even if I were in the minority, and the consensus is that we should, that should be under “ecological sustainability”. The solution to overcrowding is ultimately making more places habitable. Addressing climate change itself, through the Green New Deal, helps with that.

  26. The current plank on population under Social Justice fits well there, Jan. The language in it, however, doesn’t attempt to address the ecological issues involved, which is what the new plank intends to do. As it says in the background:

    “There are good planks on contraception, women’s health, and family planning under the Social Justice Section of the GPUS Platform. There is, however, a glaring lack on the issue of population under the Ecological Sustainability Section. As Greens, our Key Value of Ecological Wisdom compels us to address this issue in a more comprehensive manner. This proposal attempts to bring the ecological aspects of this extremely important issue into some prominence in our platform.”

  27. There is every reason for self-questioning in a biological species endowed with the ability to acquire and accumulate knowledge through language and its recordable texts. It is this species endowment that allows for difference, situated knowledge becoming general knowledge, and politics. Especially when noting the transition from adaptive learning through mimicking the survival behavior of other life forms; hunting in packs, etc. to the invention of agriculture and the domestication of other animals, this primate species began to developing knowledge that ignored the ecological consequences of human behaviors.

    The methods developed to deal with overpopulation of limited areas, not always very pretty ones, may have been less important than plagues, famines, genocides, but infanticide was perhaps more common than among feline species. The same hubris that sets no limits on growth of wealth is the driving force of overpopulation.

    The best approach remains that of reducing poverty and the impulse to reproduction, while protecting the hygienic role of sexual pleasure and orgastic release of energy. But the value of the uniquely human sexual perversion of abstinence should not be ignored. It has acted as a powerful stimulus to rationalization, ideology, religion, and other intellectual products of the human imagination.

  28. There are compelling historical reasons for all of us to be concerned about “eugenics,” and this population plank addresses those fears up front. Another less obvious threat is that posed by “lifeboat ethics” (which ranks the “worth” of individuals by their value to society in deciding who should be allowed to say in a hypothetical lifeboat) – and this plank also addresses them. Not sure if others are aware of it, but some schools actually teach lifeboat ethics – or at least were when my daughters were in public school back in the 90s.

    So, those fears about the population issue are recognized as being critically important and addressed. The other issues being brought up make little sense to me.

    Aimee Smith obviously knows nothing of my personal value system – which is (from what I understand) very similar to that of Pope Francis and why I think he’d be the perfect person to speak out about having people voluntarily limit the size of their families to one or two children. He did choose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, known both for his love for the poor and for his love for wild animals and all of Creation.

    (Please note that Italy – a largely Catholic country – is one of the few nations that has achieved negative population growth.)

    It’s essential that our Green Party platform includes a section on the ecological costs of human overpopulation and its effects on All Our Relations.

  29. I disagree with Alex Noyle’s “The solution to overcrowding is ultimately making more places habitable” if this means pre-empting more of the habitat of other species for occupation by the human species. With 97% of the land mammal biomass on the globe now consisting of humans and human domesticates, wild creatures must not be imposed on any further than they presently are, and humanity should be working to retract its vast ecological footprint in every possible way, from wiser land use to ceasing to expand our numbers and eventually allowing those numbers to shrink. I agree with Linda Cree’s last paragraph above on the need to recognize the ecological costs human expansion imposes on other species.

  30. I suggest that the first 4 items be rearranged. Currently the very first one – integrating these issues into school curriculum – may trigger (unnecessary) alarm in some reader who think anyone advocating for population control are eugenicists or worse, and “look they’re trying to brainwash kids in schools”. We don’t want to scare them away before they read what rest we’re saying.

    So I suggest putting #3 first, then #2, followed by #4 then #1, or the other way, #1 then #4.

    Thanks for the great work!

  31. Accepting the suggestions made by Maggie, it is possible that the ecologically sound proposal might be made more palatable to those whose ideological belief systems were developed in monotheistic cultures, Thus three suggested additions:
    In 2. add the sentence; “2. Of those rights, the most immediately relevant is the right to an adequate livelihood.”

    In 3. preface the 1st sentence with the adverbial clause “Noting 3. the connection between brief life expectancy and high birthrates, it is importamt to . . . ” promote

    And in 5. add to the current statement, “5. while easing migration from areas no longer ecologically sustainable.

    These addition may introduce some redundancy into the Platform, but a redundancy that assists communication. I expect that there will be a sufficient number of delegates who support the values of the majority of Greens and are capable of retaining their beliefs without imposing them on others who they represent.

  32. The ideology behind zpg is racist. Why? Because ‘colored’ people make up the majority of the planet. Therefore ‘white’ people are saying, “gee we could like you if there just weren’t so many of you.”

    The ideology behind zpg is class warfare par excellence. Why? Because almost half the world’s population lives in poverty (statistics from this 2013 page http://www.globalissues.org/…/26/poverty-facts-and-stats the others I looked at were 2014 so they probably haven’t been updated yet). People living in poverty do not hold power. They don’t run the countries, governments, courts, businesses, etc. It will be people in power passing laws and they will, because they always do, target the ‘other’, the people ‘different from’ them. So that means zpg will target the poor. Therefore zpg won’t be eliminating poverty, they will be eliminating poor people. It is not the same thing.

    I wrote 6 pages on why zpg is sexist and targets women. I directly challenge most of the language in this proposal – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nJ48Yi9JeSRWVW3WFxbA1_KBBiIK9SEma11HxPaw5_Y/edit?usp=sharing

    Take a look at some of the stats from the poverty and stats link above. The problem is consumption. And the priorities in the world’s richest countries are: cosmetics, ice cream (personal favorite), perfume?, pet foods, drugs (legal and not), and the big daddy of them all military spending. The focus should not now nor ever be on population it should be on consumption and namely the consumption by the world’s richest countries.

    I do believe you can have a sound ecological policy that makes us good stewards of our house, earth. I don’t believe you can do it within the rhetoric of zpg.

    If eco-socialists and zpg ideologues want to do this then it is very simple. Get sterilized. You get sterilized first. You take one for the team.

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